Stony Brook University

Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

By Samuel L. Stanley, Jr.

Samuel L. Stanley Jr.

In recognition of his dedication to the cancer fight, Stony Brook University proudly honored the 47th Vice President of the United States Joseph R. Biden Jr. at the Stars of Stony Brook Gala — our annual fundraising event — on Wednesday, April 19.

Hosted by the Stony Brook Foundation, the gala generates funds for student financial aid and a select academic area of excellence. This year, the university raised $6,946,000 in gifts and pledges, including $2,051,000 for scholarships and $4,895,000 to support the Stony Brook University Cancer Center. Since 2000, the event has raised more than $50 million.

As vice president, Joe Biden led the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force. Its mission: to double the rate of progress in preventing the disease that leads to more than 8 million deaths worldwide every year. The intention, said Biden in his remarks, was to infuse the cancer research culture with “the urgency of now.”

At Stony Brook, we share Joe Biden’s determination, sense of urgency and his fundamental confidence in our ability to make a difference in the fight against cancer. The Stony Brook Cancer Center brings together the brightest minds, enhancing purposeful collaboration, and creating strategic partnerships to share information and accelerate research.

Our researchers are receiving worldwide attention for a pioneering study of the genesis and behavior of cancer cells at the molecular level with the goal of one day helping to detect, treat and eventually eliminate the disease for good.

Through continual research and discovery, Stony Brook Cancer Center is on the forefront of cancer care. In the new Kavita and Lalit Bahl Center for Metabolomics and Imaging, for instance, Dr. Yusuf Hannun and Dr. Lina Obeid are receiving international recognition for their pioneering studies in the relationship between cancer and lipids, naturally occurring molecules in the body such as fats. Their work is changing what is known about the role lipids play in cancer and brings us closer to understanding how to prevent and treat the disease.

Next year, the Stony Brook Cancer Center will relocate from its current location on the Stony Brook Medicine campus to the new 254,000-square-foot Medical and Research Translation (MART) building, designed to enable scientists and physicians to work side by side to advance cancer research and imaging diagnostics.

We’re thrilled that for one big night, we shined a white-hot light on the cancer issue and worked to raise awareness and money that will no doubt play a continuing role in bringing an end to this disease.

Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. is president of Stony Brook University.

Patricia Wright speaks at the Earth Optimism Summit in April. Photo by Ronda Ann Gregorio

By Daniel Dunaief

Determined to share success stories instead of doom and gloom, Nancy Knowlton, the Sant Chair of Marine Science at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, decided to change the tone of the conservation dialog.

Knowlton organized the first Earth Optimism Summit around the most recent Earth Day this April. She searched for speakers who could share their progress and blueprints for success. That included Patricia Wright, a Stony Brook University distinguished professor who has developed an impressive legacy during her 25 years in Madagascar.

Nancy Knowlton, organizer of the first Earth Optimism Summit in April. Photo by Ronda Ann Gregorio

In Madagascar, the 10th poorest country on Earth, optimism has been growing, perhaps even more rapidly than the 1,000 endemic trees that have been making a comeback in the island nation off the southeast coast of Africa. The growth of those trees has encouraged the return of animals that had retreated from an area thinned out by selective logging.

“This year, the rare and furtive bird, the scaly ground roller, came back and nested,” Wright reported. The “black and white ruffed lemur gave the area the thumbs up and reestablished territories and reproduced.”

The critically endangered golden bamboo lemur also doubled the size of its population. “The forest took 25 years to recover, but it can recover,” Wright said in her speech. Dedicated to the study of lemurs, Wright in 1991 helped create Ranomafana National Park, which is the third largest park in Madagascar. She served as a plenary speaker for a gathering that drew over 1,400 people to Washington. Scientists and policymakers held sister summits in nine other countries at the same time.

“You can’t possibly make progress in conservation if you only talk about the problems,” said Knowlton, a co-host of the summit. Knowlton knew Wright from serving on the Committee for Research and Exploration, where the two interacted six times a year. When she was putting together the list of speakers, Knowlton approached the 2014 winner of the Indianapolis Zoo Prize to see if she could share a positive message in conservation.

When Wright accepted, Knowlton was “thrilled, not only because she’s a good storyteller, but because she’s also done incredibly important work in Madagascar.” Indeed, Wright said national parks have greatly expanded from only two in the 1980s. “Now with the work of many dedicated environmentalists, including the enlightened policy of the U.S. government through USAID, we have 18 National Parks and a National Park Service to manage and protect them,” she told the session.

Restoring trees to the area also offers economic opportunity, Wright said. Under the endemic trees, farmers can grow crops like vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon and wild pepper, she said. “All these products can be marketed for high prices. We will take back that land and make it productive again, doubling or tripling its value,” Wright continued.

A scientist featured in the 2014 film “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar,” Wright has engaged in a wide range of efforts on behalf of the Malagasy. Last year, she negotiated with a mayor on the island to pick up trash in exchange for the purchase of several wheelbarrows. She also helped encourage the renovation of 35 schools in communities around Ranomafana, where students learn critical thinking and molecular biology. This, Wright said, is occurring in a country where three out of five students don’t remain in school past fifth grade. “More children in this region are graduating from high school and over a handful have received university degrees,” she explained.

A health team also walks to 50 nearby villages, carrying medicines and basic health lessons. SBU brought drones last year, which can fly medicines as far as 40 miles away. Drones could monitor the outbreak of any unknown and potentially dangerous disease and can offer health care for people who live in ares that are inaccessible by road.

The financial support of the National Science Foundation helped create Centre ValBio, a field station and campus in the middle of the rainforest. The research station has modern facilities and equipment to conduct genetics and disease analyses. “We provide tools and training and even fiber-optic cable internet, the fastest in the region,” Wright said. They are expanding the research facilities this year.

Through research efforts, Wright and other scientists have also discovered two new species of lemurs and found two others that were considered extinct. Restoring the national forest not only brought back animals that had retreated into the inner part of the forest, but it also encouraged the growth of ecotourism.

In 1991, there was only one tourist hotel and now there are 32 hotels, providing facilities for the 30,000 tourists. “That can start to change an economy,” Wright suggested. “Cottage industries have developed like the woman’s weaving group and the basket weavers and blacksmiths who all make a good living from selling to tourists and researchers.”

Wright attributes these positive steps to a dedication to working with residents in the area. “We have been successful by training local residents and university students, by listening to what the communities want, rather than what we think is best,” she said.

Knowlton suggested that “you can’t helicopter conservation into a particular place. It’s got to be built from the ground up. She’s done it in Madagascar.” While these are positive steps, Wright declared this is just the beginning. “There are endless possibilities of scientific knowledge and research,” she said. “They all matter and impact our daily lives.”

As for the Earth Optimism Summit, Knowlton said this is just the beginning as well, originally thinking of organizing a second summit in 2020, but may hold the next one sooner. “We’re identifying what’s working and putting a spotlight on it,” Knowlton said. “The feedback has been extraordinarily, unbelievably positive. We’ve come to realize that people are demanding” another conference.

She appreciated Wright’s contribution to April’s conference.“By sharing her successes, Pat Wright brings home the message that if she can do it, so can we all,” Knowlton said. “The summit succeeded because Wright and over 240 other speakers made it obvious, through the successes that they shared, that solving the environmental problems we face is not out of reach.”

Honoree US Vice President Joe Biden (center) stands with Samuel L. Stanley Jr., President, Stony Brook University, Former and James H. Simons, Chair Emeritus, Stony Brook Fountation and IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond during the 2017 Stars of Stony Brook Gala at Chelsea Piers April 19, 2017, in New York, NY. (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for Stony Brook University)

Stony Brook University recognized the 47th vice president of the United States of America, the Honorable Joseph R. Biden Jr., at its 18th annual Stars of Stony Brook Gala on April 19 at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City. The former vice president was recognized for his outstanding career and dedication to the fight against cancer.

“Cancer touches us all in some way and at some point,” said Biden. “Everywhere I go, people share their stories of heartbreak and hope. And every day, I’m reminded that our work to end cancer as we know it is bigger than just a single person. It carries the hopes and dreams of millions of people who are praying that we succeed, praying for hope, praying for time — not someday, but now.”

As vice president, Biden led the White House Cancer Moonshot, with the mission to double the rate of progress in preventing and fighting the disease. Under his leadership, the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force catalyzed novel, innovative and impactful collaborations among 20 government agencies, departments and White House offices and over 70 private sector collaborations designed to achieve a decades’ worth of progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in just five years.

In addition, Biden helped lead the effort to pass the 21st Century Cures Act that provides $1.8 billion over seven years for the Cancer Moonshot’s scientific priorities.

“We are privileged to have the opportunity to honor former Vice President Biden,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley. “The Cancer Moonshot has the potential to transform cancer research and prevention around the world. This critical initiative is a reflection of the work our researchers and doctors are doing in Stony Brook Cancer Center labs — using insight, innovation and strategic collaborations to push the boundaries of what we know about how best to diagnose, treat and ultimately prevent the disease that is responsible for more than 8 million deaths a year worldwide.”

Research and discovery are at the heart of the Stony Brook ethos and the university’s Cancer Center is a shining example of its commitment to combating the malady. Stony Brook doctors are on the forefront of the next generation in cancer care.

The Cancer Center will relocate next year to the new 254,000 square-foot Medical and Research Translation facility (MART), which was designed to enable scientists and physicians to work side by side to advance cancer research and imaging diagnostic and will be the home to the new Bahl Center for Metabolomics and Imaging. Stony Brook researchers are receiving worldwide attention for their pioneering research into the genesis and behavior of cancer cells at the molecular level, which will one day help detect, treat, and eliminate the disease altogether.

Every spring the Stony Brook Foundation hosts the Stars of Stony Brook Gala to benefit student scholarships and a select academic program. Since its inception in 2000, the event has raised more than $42 million. A portion of the net proceeds from this year’s gala will support the Stony Brook Cancer Center.

Biden joins a distinguished roster of scholars, politicians, celebrities and luminaries who have been honored by the gala for their outstanding and relentless commitment to society, including Nobel Laureate CN Yang; actors Julie Andrews, Alan Alda and Ed Harris; founder of Renaissance Technologies Jim Simons; CA Technologies founder Charles Wang; and world-renowned conservationists Richard Leakey and Patricia Wright.

Escobar-Hoyos, center, holds her recent award, with Kenneth Shroyer, the chairman of the Department of Pathology at Stony Brook on the left and Steven Leach, the director of the David M. Rubenstein Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research on the right. Photo by Cindy Leiton

By Daniel Dunaief

While winter storm Niko in February closed schools and businesses and brought considerable precipitation to the region, it also coincided with great news for Luisa Escobar-Hoyos, who earned her doctorate from Stony Brook University.

Escobar-Hoyos, who is a part-time research assistant professor in the Department of Pathology at Stony Brook University and a postdoctoral fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, received word that she was the sole researcher selected in the country to receive the prestigious $600,000 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network–American Association for Cancer Research Pathway to Leadership Award.

When she heard the news, Escobar-Hoyos said she was “filled with excitement.” After she spoke with her husband Nicolas Hernandez and her current mentor at MSKCC, Steven Leach, the director of the David M. Rubenstein Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research, she called her parents in her native Colombia.

Her mother, Luz Hoyos, understood her excitement not only as a parent but as a cancer researcher herself. “My interest in cancer research started because of my mom,” Escobar-Hoyos said. Observing her example and “the excitement and the impact she has on her students and young scientists working with her, I could see myself” following in her footsteps.

The researcher said her joy at winning the award has blended with “a sense of responsibility” to the growing community of patients and their families who have developed a deadly disease that is projected to become the second leading cause of cancer-related death by 2020, according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, moving past colorectal cancer.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has awarded $35 million in funding to 142 scientists across the country from 2003 to 2016, many of whom have continued to improve an understanding of this insidious form of cancer.

David Tuveson, the current director of the Cancer Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, received funds from PanCan to develop the first genetically engineered mouse model that mimics human disease. Jiyoung Ahn, the associate director of the NYU Cancer Institute, used the funds to discover that two species of oral bacteria are associated with an over 50 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

Over the first decade since PanCan started awarding these grants, the recipients have been able to convert each dollar granted into $8.28 in further pancreatic cancer research funding.

In her research, Escobar-Hoyos suggests that alternative splicing, or splitting up messenger RNA at different locations to create different versions of the same protein, plays an important part in the start and progress of pancreatic cancer. “Her preliminary data suggest that alternative splicing could be associated with poorer survival and resistance to treatment,” Lynn Matrisian, the chief science officer at PanCan, explained in an email. “The completion of her project will enhance our understanding of this molecular modification and how it impacts pancreatic cancer cell growth, survival and the progression to more advanced stages of this disease.”

Escobar-Hoyos explained that she will evaluate how mutations in transcriptional regulators and mRNA splicing factors influence gene expression and alternative splicing of mRNAs to promote the disease and aggression of the most common form of pancreatic cancer. Later, she will evaluate how splicing regulators and alternatively spliced genes enriched in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma contribute to tumor maintenance and resistance to therapy.

Escobar-Hoyos will receive $75,000 in each of the first two years of the award to pay for a salary or a technician, during a mentored phase of the award. After those two years, she will receive $150,000 for three years, when PanCan expects her to be in an independent research position.

Escobar-Hoyos said her graduate research at Stony Brook focused on ways to understand the biological differences between patients diagnosed with the same cancer type. She helped discover the way a keratin protein called K17 entered the nucleus and brought another protein into the cytoplasm, making one type of tumor more aggressive.

While Escobar-Hoyos works full time at Memorial Sloan Kettering, she continues to play an active role in Kenneth Shroyer’s lab, where she conducted experiments for her doctorate. She is the co-director of the Pathology Translational Research Laboratory, leading studies that are focused on pancreatic cancer biomarkers. The chair in the Department of Pathology, Shroyer extended an offer for her to continue to address the research questions her work addressed after she started her postdoctoral fellowship.

“When you do research projects and you develop them from the beginning, they are like babies and you really want to see how they evolve,” Escobar-Hoyos said. Numerous projects are devoted to different aspects of K17, she said.

Shroyer said Escobar-Hoyos had already been the first author on two landmark studies related to the discovery and validation of K17 even before her work with pancreatic cancer. “She has also conducted highly significant new research” that she is currently developing “that I believe will transform the field of pancreatic cancer research,” Shroyer wrote in an email.

Shroyer hopes to recruit Escobar-Hoyos to return to Stony Brook when she completes her fellowship to a full-time position as a tenure track assistant professor. “Based on her achievements in basic research and her passion to translate her findings to improve the care of patients with pancreatic cancer, I have no doubt she is one of the most promising young pancreatic cancer research scientists of her generation,” he continued.

Yusuf Hannun, the director of the Stony Brook Cancer Center, said Escobar-Hoyos’s work provided a new and important angle with considerable promise in understanding pancreatic cancer. “She is a tremendous example of success for junior investigators,” Hannun wrote in an email.

Escobar-Hoyos said she is hoping, a year or two from now, to transition to becoming an independent scientist and principal investigator, ideally at an academic institution. “Because of my strong ties with Stony Brook and all the effort the institution is investing in pancreatic research” SBU is currently her first choice.

Escobar-Hoyos is pleased that she was able to give back to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network when she and a team of other friends and family helped raise about $4,000 as a part of a PurpleStride 5K walk in Prospect Park earlier this month.“I was paying forward what this foundation has done for me in my career,” she said.

Matrisian said dedicated scientists offer hope to patients and their families. “Researchers like Escobar-Hoyos spark scientific breakthroughs that may create treatments and ultimately, improve the lives of patients,” she suggested.

CHECK PRESENTATION: From left, Dr. Lina Obeid, Leg. Kara Hahn, Dr. Yusuf A. Hannun, Gloria Rocchio, Dr. Scott Powers, Carol Simco and Dr. Jun Lin. Photo from WMHO

On March 27, Stony Brook University’s Cancer Center received a donation of $40,000 from the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO), which were funds raised from WMHO’s 23rd Annual Walk for Beauty and Hercules Run held on Oct. 23 of last year in historic Stony Brook Village.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and co-chair, Walk for Beauty; Gloria Rocchio, president, Ward Melville Heritage Organization and co-chair, Walk for Beauty; and Carol Simco, co-chair, Walk for Beauty, officially presented the check to Dr. Yusuf A. Hannun, director, Stony Brook Cancer Center, and vice dean, Cancer Medicine. Joining them were Dr. Jun Lin and Dr. Scott Powers, cancer researchers whose projects received funds raised from the 2015 Walk for Beauty, and Dr. Lina Obeid, dean for research, Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

Also present, but not shown, were Councilwoman Valerie M. Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), WMHO Trustee Anna Kerekes and Walk for Beauty committee members. Since its inception in 1994, Walk for Beauty has raised over $1.365 million toward breast cancer research. Funds raised also help to supply items such as wigs and prostheses for SBU Cancer Center patients. The event is an all-volunteer initiative with no administrative costs.

Registration is now open for the 2017 Walk for Beauty, which will take place on Sunday, Oct. 22. Visit www.wmho.org/wfb for more information.

Christopher Forella, standing, third from left, and Dhaval Shah, standing, third from right, with fellow members of Pi Lambda Phi at the Open Door Exchange. Photo from the Open Door Exchange

One fraternity at Stony Brook University has opened the door to a new volunteer adventure that benefits families in need.

When Christopher Forella, a member of the fraternity Pi Lambda Phi at Stony Brook University, was searching the school’s Handshake database for volunteer opportunities, he came across the Open Door Exchange furniture bank. The fraternity’s vice president of programming and risk management said he knew it would be the perfect place for his fraternity brothers to volunteer at this spring semester.

Pi Lambda Phi members from Stony Brook help with the Open Door Exchange. Photo from Open Door Exchange

“I really liked their mission — getting furniture and donating it to people who need it, helping people in need who really can’t afford it,” Forella said in a phone interview.

The Open Door Exchange is an outreach program that allows the underprivileged to shop for furniture free of charge at their Port Jefferson Station warehouse. Kate Jones Calone, a Presbyterian minister affiliated with the Setauket Presbyterian Church, manages the organization. When she heard the fraternity brothers were willing to volunteer at the warehouse, she said she was thrilled.

“It’s especially exciting for us to be able to connect with the university,” Calone said. “The Open Door Exchange really is a community-based project, and the university is such an important part of our community. To be able to work together with students on something that benefits the whole community is a really nice gift for us.”

For Sanjay Jonnavithula, a senior at SBU and a member of the fraternity since it was founded in 2014, the experience of helping those in need to acquire furniture for free has been a rewarding one.

“Furniture is often overlooked as a vital ingredient for a stable household, so it makes me feel incredible that our fraternity is able to aid this great organization in the work that they do,” Jonnavithula said.

The senior said the experience is one that will stay with him even after graduating from SBU, and he believes it has made a positive impact on his fraternity brothers as well.

“I’m sure I speak for all graduating seniors in Pi Lambda Phi when I say that the amount of different community service projects we’ve been a part of, especially Open Door Exchange, has tremendously influenced our lives,” he said. “We are all diverging on our separate paths next year, but we will continue to aid our local communities and get involved with the local charitable organizations in whatever way we possibly can.”

Dhaval Shah, junior at the university and fraternity president, said this type of volunteer work is different from the beach cleanups and assisting at a Head Start preschool like the group has done in the past.

“Something like Open Door Exchange, we see results right away,” Shah said. “We see people coming in and taking the furniture, and the impact on their lives.”

“Furniture is often overlooked as a vital ingredient for a stable household, so it makes me feel incredible that our fraternity is able to aid this great organization in the work that they do.”

— Sanjay Jonnavithula

Forella said the fraternity has 46 members, and when it comes to volunteering every other week at the warehouse for three to four hours, they usually will have about a dozen members working together depending on their schedules. Most of the students help to unload furniture from trucks, but some go out with the loading trucks to pick up donations.

“It’s really making good use of my time to be out helping people who can definitely use the help,” Forella said.

Calone said the other volunteers with Open Door Exchange have enjoyed working with the college students, and they have brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the project.

“They’ve extended our capacity to do what we do in a really meaningful way,” the minister said. “It has a real big impact on what we’re able to do.

Calone is even more appreciative of the time the fraternity brothers have given the organization because she understands how valuable free time is to college students.

“They’re taking time out of their weekend, and it’s precious time for students,” she said. “And giving back to the community, that’s something just really nice for all of us to see what the university brings and how it benefits all of us. These students — the way they are giving back — is just really nice for the community as a whole.”

At the first meeting of the HiTOP consortium. Kotov is in the center. Photo from HiTOP consortium.

By Daniel Dunaief

Instead of lamenting the shortcomings of a system they felt didn’t work as well as it should, Roman Kotov and a growing group of collaborators whose numbers now exceed 50 decided to do something about it. An associate professor of psychiatry at Stony Brook University, Kotov and his collaborators are building their own mental health tool, which, they hope, will offer specific diagnoses for everything from anxiety to schizophrenia.

Roman Kotov. Photo from SBU School of Medicine

The current resource psychologists and psychiatrists use is called the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5,” which came out in 2013. The latest version of the DSM, as the manual that offers psychologists and psychiatrists a way to link a collection of symptoms to a diagnosis is called, “felt far too limited,” Kotov said. “Once we started discussing [an alternative], almost everyone was interested in the scientific community. They thought it was a good and necessary idea.”

Called the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology, or HiTOP, the developing classification system uses scientific evidence, illness symptoms and impaired functioning in its diagnoses. Another HiTOP co-creator, David Watson, the Andrew J. McKenna Family professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame, recognized Kotov’s important early work on the project.

Kotov “deserves sole credit for the idea of putting all of our data together to provide the basis for an alternative model,” Watson explained in an email. “He did some preliminary work along these lines, which convinced us that this was a great idea that was worth pursuing.” Watson, who served as Kotov’s graduate adviser at the University of Iowa, said that his former student leads meetings and conference calls for the HiTOP group.

The HiTOP system, which was recently described in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, views mental disorders along a spectra, while also using empirical evidence to understand overlap among disorders and classify different symptoms within a given diagnosis. As an example, Kotov said that depression in the DSM is “treated as one thing. We know that depression is heterogeneous.”

Indeed, some people with depression may have lost their appetite and have trouble sleeping, while others may be eating and sleeping considerably more than they would if they weren’t depressed. “In some ways, these are opposite presentations, yet they get the same diagnosis” in the DSM, Kotov said.

HiTOP unpacks this variability into seven dimensions, which describe symptom types. That is helpful not only for a diagnosis but also for a treatment. HiTOP also goes beyond the binary description of the presence or absence of a particular symptom, offering clinicians a way of indicating the severity of a problem. At this point, HiTOP is a developing prototype and not a completed diagnostic tool. The scientists developing this tool have made inroads in four primary areas: anxiety and depression, substance use problems, personality problems and psychotic disorders.

“The HiTOP system currently is incomplete, as it primarily focuses on more common and widely studied forms of psychopathology,” Watson suggested, “but mental health professionals certainly could use it to assess/ diagnose a broad range of conditions.” Mental health professionals can view this new resource at the website https://medicine.stonybrookmedicine.edu/HITOP.

Kotov hopes this new paradigm will “focus on science and do everything we can to keep unpolitical, nonscientific considerations out of it,” he said. “We hope that it provides the most up-to-date alternative” to the DSM. The HiTOP approach, Kotov said, relies more heavily on scientific evidence, which can include genetic vulnerabilities, environmental risk factors and neurobiological abnormalities.

Kotov, who is working on several projects, said HiTOP takes about a quarter of his time. He is also involved with a long-term study of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, which was started in the early 1990s, before he arrived at Stony Brook in 2006.

Kotov is following up on this cohort, looking at outcomes for treatment and analyzing risk factors and processes that determine the course of an illness. He is also leading a study on first responders to the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center, which is exploring the physical and emotional consequences of participating in the response to the unprecedented attack.

Kotov and his collaborators are investigating the health of responders in their daily life using mobile technology. They are also studying how personalities affect their health, which may soon help guide personalized treatment.

Another project involves the study of children who are 14 to 17 years old and explores the emotional growth and personality development. This study includes reports, surveys and interviews. During those years, “much happens as far as personality development,” Kotov said.

Colleagues at Stony Brook praised Kotov’s scientific contributions. Kotov is a “rising star” and is “perhaps best known for his work on the role of personality in psychopathology and, increasingly, for work on classification of psychiatric disorders,” Daniel Klein, a distinguished professor in the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook, wrote in an email.

A resident of Port Jefferson, Kotov lives with his wife Tatiana, who is a controller for a small company in Manhattan. The couple has two young daughters. Kotov grew up in Russia in a small town near Moscow. He was always interested in science and developed a particular curiosity about psychology when a high school psychology teacher sparked his interest when he was 15.

As for the HiTOP effort, Kotov is convinced this endeavor will offer the mental health community a valuable tool. “We believe that describing patients more accurately, precisely and reliably will help provide better and more personalized care,” he said.

The front entrance to the new ambulatory care center. Photo from SBU

By L. Reuven Pasternak, M.D.

Dr. L. Reuven Pasternak

As a native Long Islander, I know that we Long Islanders like to have choices and flexibility in many aspects of our lives, and we’re not shy about saying so. Having choices and flexibility in the quality of medical care we receive is certainly no exception.

That is why, on March 1, Stony Brook Medicine opened a new, multispecialty ambulatory care center, Advanced Specialy Care, at 500 Commack Road in Commack. The new center has more than 30 specialties designed to meet the majority of families’ medical needs, all under one roof.

Not only does this provide convenience for you and your family, it provides peace of mind because it means you can expect to receive the high level of expertise and compassionate care Stony Brook Medicine primary care doctors and specialists are known to provide.

And if surgery or other specialty care or access to clinical trials is needed, you can go to Stony Brook University Hospital without any disruption in the continuity of your care. As part of the only academic medical center in Suffolk County, Advanced Specialty Care offers it all.

Stony Brook doctors located in the Commack facility include primary and specialty care internists and pediatricians, gynecologists and obstetricians, dermatologists, orthopedists and urologists, surgeons and neurosurgeons. We also have a complete imaging center on site to provide X-rays, mammograms, ultrasounds, bone densitometry, and CT and MRI scans.

Another indication of how committed we are to serving our patients in western Suffolk and beyond is the sheer size of our state-of-the-art facility. The Advanced Specialty Care center occupies nearly 120,000 square feet of space, with room to expand as additional services are added. The location is just minutes away from the Sunken Meadow Parkway (Sagtikos), the Northern State Parkway and the Long Island Expressway.

We want this to be as close to a one-stop shopping experience as possible for you and your family. Whether it’s for a regular checkup or something more, I hope you will take advantage of having the power of Stony Brook Medicine close by, under one roof, at Advanced Specialty Care in Commack.

Dr. L. Reuven Pasternak is CEO at Stony Brook University Hospital and vice president for health systems at Stony Brook Medicine.